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Avoiding Flops

Avoiding Flops On, Or After The Flop

As we have discussed in other articles it is imperative for a smart poker player to observe and study the actions of other players during a hand in relation to his own hand and what is on the board. Reading all factors and taking them into account is the only way to make the most intelligent betting decision.

There are many traps and pitfalls that a player, particularly new ones, can fall into after the flop. It is important to know how to read the board in order to avoid the common mistake of raising lower hands.

If there is a lot of betting activity and growing pot after the flop, it’s a solid indicator that somebody either has the nuts or has a draw to the nut hand. Another strategy of players with a fringe hand is to jam the pot, to over-inflate it, to even bully it, in order to scare off other players from drawing to make a better hand. An example to consider is if you are holding a flush draw, (one card short of a flush with the river draw yet to come), after the turn, which turns up pairs.

A turn that becomes pairs could give a competitor a full house or even four of a kind, or a potential draw to it. As you sit there with your flush draw, you must avoid the emotion of excitement and replace it with the cold calculation that even if the flush draw comes your way, your flush will be beaten by either that four of a kind or full house hand that your competitor could possibly have. By continuing to chase and bet after the flush draw you are doing what is known as “drawing dead,” which means that you are throwing money away on a loser.

If the player with the nut or nut draw keeps raising, you will end up with a very expensive defeat on a hand that was not the nut hand (best possible). And if the pot is jammed, particularly in a limit hold’em game, chances are that no one is seriously bluffing and somebody has the nuts or nut draw. When the pot keeps getting jammed in such a situation it is probably a good time to muck it and try for the next hand. Again, you are comparing your best possible hand against what the best possible hand on the board could be and taking into account the actions of your competitors to tip you off as to what you should do.

Now, on the other hand, you are holding a flush draw and there is very little activity and the pot is not jammed, you may very well be in business and want to stay in through the river.

Avoiding Flopping After The Flop Part Two

We have discussed drawing dead in part one of the dangers and pitfalls of drawing on a lower hand that cannot be the nuts. This is in relation to what is on the board and the actions of your competitors.

Let’s take a look at another trap, which is perusing the short or ignorant end of a straight. If you entered the pot after drawing an 8-7 of hearts and the flop comes in a rainbow (3 different suits) 10-9-7 you have made a pair and have a draw to the straight with either a jack or 6. Let’s say the jack comes on the turn and you have your straight. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Think again. If a player is holding a queen your straight has just gone straight down the tubes and you are left holding the short end and a losing hand. You may get the queen on the river to give you a tie; you still aren’t out of the woods if someone else is holding a king. The point is that you cannot invest to many chips in hands that are not the nuts because someone else may have them. To avoid drawing dead you must correctly analyze the best possible hand that ANYONE could have and compare that to what you are holding.

Another trap could be a situation in which you are holding pocket spades ranked king and queen and two spades (7&3) come on the flop. You have a flush draw on the turn, with a seemingly strong hand. But is it the best possible hand? NO! The best possible hand would be someone also holding pocket spades, with one of the spades being an ace. That hand would be the NUT flush draw hand and beat you if the turn or river comes spades.

A mistake that many inexperienced players make is getting to excited about seemingly good hands, caught up in the momentum of their possibilities but not fully analyzing the sober reality that there is something better that could be out there. A little bit of pessimism is perfectly acceptable, always look for what can beat you as much as what can help you (the “out” cards) and then you can combine that with the actions of your competitors come betting time to keep yourself out of trouble and in the game.

Also keep in mind that strong hands are stronger in games with lesser players. A pair of queens is far more powerful in a “heads up” game of two players than in a game of many players such as anywhere from 7 to 10 participants. In games with several players there are so many possible combinations that can beat you that it is critical that you learn to read the board and cards and come up with the best possible hand or hands that can beat you.

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